The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Navigation Where It Belongs

I don’t care how much butchery it takes, we are having a plotter/radar at the forward end of the cockpit where it belongs, to supplement and backup the iPad we use for navigation.

The plotter below-decks is useless when shorthanded and we don’t like plotters on the binnacle, either.

The new on-deck plotter will act as an autopilot control head as well as show strategic information like laylines, should I have a rush of blood to the head and go racing.

The new plotter is much smaller than I would like, but compromises are required on any boat, and the smaller the boat gets, the bigger the compromises.

More on making the most of these small-boat navigation compromises.

Mock-up of the fascia that I just made to assist the composite technician who is going to fix my butchery and make it look nice.

Yes, I could do the glasswork, but it would take me three times as long and look half as nice—know your limitations.

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Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Agree completely with regard to a chartplotter under the dodger and not at the helm: with a couple of caveats:
That the CP needs to be able to be seen from the helm well enough to use by the helmsperson when going into anchorages and harbors. I have been surprised and pleased that even my little Furuno CP under the dodger allows me to see enough details from the helm to keep me from trouble when poking around anchorages or entering a port. I was looking at your B&G and wondering if the screen was big enough to allow this from the end of the dodger as it seems placed. For sure, this is a plus for tiller boats with the driver seated forward.
I have yet to meet a CP (limited experience for sure) that I wish to do navigation with from the usually awkward positions one has to do so under the dodger and with the poor user friendliness that most CP controls seem equipped with.
So, I would want an interface of some sort allowing navigation to be done below (preferably with a mouse) and “sent” upstairs to the CP under the dodger.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
I keep forgetting about ipads, which we have for back-up, but rarely use. Is there a good “stand” for the ipad for use under the dodger?
Thanks, Dick

Dick Stevenson

Thanks, John, for the url. Appreciated, Dick

Rob Gill

Hi Dick,

Have a look at this one:

Strangely, Railblaza only show the screen holder attached with its female star-port mount. But the male star-port fits into the top of any standard winch. So if you have halyards coming back to the cockpit under your dodger, then this provides a simple “back-up” solution.

When you reef / hoist / drop, just lift the holder with i-Pad and swap to the other winch (assuming you have two). Takes just a few seconds.

We only use our i-Pad and mount on extended night passages or winter days when it’s unpleasant by the helm – our cockpit chart plotter is by the helm.

Or when we are coming into a new or tricky South Pacific Island pass and want two independent electronic chart sources for reference.

If we used the screen holder more, I would install the female mount in the perfect position, but the top of the winch works for us, for the amount we use it. So I suspect also for you.

This holder has enough play and enough grip to cope with our i-Pad, in or out of its waterproof case.

BTW, we also use the Railblaza small craft LED nav lights with mounts on our 2.4m RIB for use at night. We also have rail mounts on our pulpit and pushpit where the same RIB lights double as our emergency nav lights. Best regards. Rob

Dick Stevenson

Hi Rob, I will explore. having winches under the dodger, what you describe sounds perfect. Thanks, Dick

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I know you have mentioned that you plan to add radar this winter, is it going on that center screen? If so, I am curious on your watchkeeping plan for singlehanded crowded waters sailing. We used to be set up with under the dodger screens but that abruptly needed to change when we had kids (constant visual blocking and they love pressing buttons that beep). Prior to changing and if my wife wasn’t aboard, I never quite got comfortable with the watchkeeping position. I wanted to be able to look around at all times which is often impossible from below the dodger due to condensation/fogging, I wanted to see the radar, I wanted to see the compass and wanted to be able to change course quickly. I ended up mostly standing at the aft end of the dodger and reaching behind me to steer which was fine other than I couldn’t see the compass which was a problem when hand steering only. Maybe the answer would have been to add another compass under the dodger but it was getting pretty crowded there. A lot of this may be driven by our fishing gear and need for constant steering, if I remember right your lobstering season doesn’t coincide much with the sailing season.

Anyways, looks like it will be a nice clean install.


Eric Klem

Hi John,

Thanks for the thoughts. Reading your reply I realized that I had never considered putting the compass info on a data display, at the time the displays we had were specific to their function not networked ones. I have seen heading on a display on other boats but never tried to steer by it, I wonder whether it would be as easy as using a good old analog compass. And the wireless remote for the autopilot definitely would help. A significant portion of the time we probably could deal with fishing gear just with one of those but when the gear gets thick, there is no substitute for hand steering.


Richard Ritchie

Any suggestions on waterproof cases for an iPad – preferably that can be bought in Europe or UK? We have used an Armor-X one but it has worn out and now importing to the UK has become much harder.
Richard, SV Wild Goose

Richard Ritchie

Thank you!